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What Hangs in the Balance?




I grabbed my grandmothers 1959 Websters New World Dictionary and this is what I found.

It is from the Latin bilanx, bilancis meaning having two scales.


  1. an instrument for weighing, especially one that opposes equal weights, as in two matched scales hanging from either end of a lever supported exactly in the middle; scales.

  2. the imaginary scales of fortune or fate, as an emblem of justice or the power to decide.

  3. the power to decide human fate, value.

  4. a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equality of two things value, etc things in weight, force, quantity, etc.

  5. bodily equilibrium; as he kept his balance on the tightrope.

  6. mental or emotional equilibrium

  7. the equilibrium of various elements in design, painting, musical composition, etc.harmonious proportions.

  8. a weight, force etc, counteracts another or causes equilibrium, counterpoise

  9. the constellation Libra or the seventh sign of the Zodiac.


Many of these definitions show up in Yoga!


In one of my favorite books, Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual by David Swenson,

he says,


"In standing sequence our balance is challenged and the understanding of how to work with the forces of gravity is developed....Be aware that the over emphasis upon the lifting qualities of an asana will weaken the foundation and stability will become diminished. With an overcompensation of the rooting quality we will find it increasingly difficult to keep the body erect and lightness will be hindered.....Ideally we must seek a balance between these two forces in order to feel free in our expression of Yoga,"


The philosophical ancient text on Yoga, the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali and translated by TKV Desickachar describes this principle that David Swenson speaks of as


sthirasukhamasana

sthira = alertness, steadiness, effort, energized

sukha = relaxation, ease, pleasure, comfort

asana = posture, seat


"Asana must have dual qualities of alterness and relaxation."


Often these concepts are referred to as steadiness and ease. These concepts must exist within the intention and also within the action of creating balance or counter-balance. The postures and the breath must feel alert and rooted and without dullness or heaviness. And alternatively, the body and the breath must also feel light and lifted without becoming unsteady.

One must not exist without the other when practicing Yoga and when possible to practice in this way obstacles to Yoga will begin to diminish.


One way to practice balance off the mat is to reflect and journal the Yama of Bramacharya (Moderation, or waste nothing, use or take only what is needed). One of the 8 Limbs of Yoga concepts for being in a state of Yoga and for maintaining highest vitality.


WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE NOT MODERATING? WHY?

TV, COFFEE, ALCOHOL, SLEEP, WORK, EXERCISE, PARTIES, GRUDGES, CONSUMING (WHAT)?

AND HOW DOES THIS ACTIVITY, THOUGHT IMPACT YOUR BALANCE?

OR YOUR STATE OF YOGA, sthirasukhamasana?


This concept really came to life for me on my journey with Ashtanga Yoga and the study of the 8 Limbs of Yoga with One Yoga Teacher Training, but you may start by learning how to build a personal asana practice in our group classes, taking a private session or joining the Intro to Ashtanga Course!


All are welcome to learn how to build a strong foundation for a personal Yoga practice!

Balance with Steadiness and Ease!










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